Nicoise salad is a French main dish that’s hearty and satisfying! This colorful Mediterranean recipe is ideal for summer or anytime.

Nicoise Salad

When it comes to classic French dishes, there’s nothing better than the carefree vibe of the great Nicoise salad. This Mediterranean main dish salad is colorful, light yet satisfying, and ideal for summer. Boiled eggs, green beans, olives, tomatoes, and tangy potato salad sit on crunchy lettuce and are covered in a zesty lemon dressing. Eat it al fresco with a glass of wine in hand and you’ll be transported to the South of France. Here’s how to make this classic salad!

What is Nicoise salad?

Nicoise salad (Salade Niçoise in French) is a composed French salad that’s served as a main dish. In French, it means “salad from Nice, France” and it’s a classic dish from the Southern coast. The hearty salad features canned tuna, potatoes, blanched green beans, olives, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, a vinaigrette salad dressing. Because it’s packed with protein, it’s filling and incredibly satisfying.

How to pronounce Nicoise? Here’s how to say it: Nee-SWAZ salad. Or in French, sah-LAHD nee-SWAZ.

Nicoise Salad

Ingredients in Nicoise salad

Eating our first Nicoise salad in Paris cemented this French classic in our summer repertoire. This recipe is an adaptation of Julia Child’s rendition of the French standard that we’ve grown to love. What makes it so impressive is the potatoes: her French potato salad is the base for the potatoes, and it’s so delicious you won’t be able to keep from sneaking bites. Here’s what’s in a classic Nicoise salad recipe:

  1. Tuna: Tuna is traditional in Nicoise salad, though you can make variations with salmon or even eat it as a vegetarian salad. It’s best with oil-packed tuna, but you can also use water packed and mix in a bit of olive oil. Another option? Make it with seared tuna.
  2. Hard boiled eggs: This key element is ideal for making ahead. Try our perfect stovetop method, steamed, or in the Instant Pot.
  3. Green beans: This salad calls for blanched green beans: this cooking method makes them tender and bright green.
  4. French potato salad: This classic recipe uses red potatoes to make a French potato salad with shallot, capers, and a vinaigrette dressing.
  5. Olives: Olives are key to the briny, salty flavor. Look for Nicoise olives if you can find them, or use Kalamata.
  6. Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes bring in color and freshness; you can also use wedges of large tomatoes.
  7. Butter lettuce: Crisp Bibb or butter lettuce serves as a base for the flavors.
  8. Lemon vinaigrette dressing: A zingy lemon vinaigrette salad dressing ties everything together.
Blanching green beans

Tips for prep

This Nicoise salad recipe is easy to make, but there are quite a bit of elements to prepare. While you can make a lot of the components at the same time, it can feel like a lot especially if you don’t have a partner in the kitchen. Here are a few tips for advanced prep:

  • Make the hard boiled eggs in advance. They’re ideal for advanced prep: simply refrigerate until serving. Tip: you can also find pre-packaged hard boiled eggs at some grocery stores, which makes this recipe a breeze.
  • Make the dressing in advance. The Nicoise salad dressing is simple to prep ahead; refrigerate and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
  • Blanch the green beans in advance. Blanch the green beans up to 5 days in advance and refrigerate until serving.
  • Make the potato salad in advance. The French potato salad stays good 4 to 5 days if you prep it before hand; refrigerate until serving.

Pick even 1 or 2 of these items to make in advance, and it makes for a much simpler prep the day of. If you decide to make it all in one evening, it’s nice to have a friend or partner to help!

Nicoise salad

How to serve Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad is the perfect spring salad or summer meal for enjoying al fresco. It screams for a glass of white wine or rosé (or even frozen rosé?). Serve it with a starter of crostini or a side of crusty bread, and you’ve got patio meal perfection.

Diet variations

Want to make vegetarian nicoise salad? Tuna is traditional for Nicoise salad, but for a vegetarian salad you can omit it and it’s still just as tasty! The potatoes and hard boiled eggs make it a filling vegetarian salad.

Want to make it vegan? Use seasoned tofu instead of tuna! We recommend Quick Tofu Crumbles.

More dinner salad recipes

There’s nothing better than a great main dish salad in the summer! Here are a few more main dish salads that work for dinner:

This salad Nicoise recipe is…

Gluten free and pescatarian.


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Nicoise salad is a French main dish that’s hearty and satisfying! This colorful Mediterranean recipe is ideal for summer or anytime.

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 small shallot (2 tablespoons minced)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato
  • 2 cans tuna, packed in oil or water
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce (aka butter lettuce)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  1. Cook the hard boiled eggs: Follow the instructions to make the Hard Boiled Eggs or Steamed Hard Boiled Eggs, or complete this step in advance and refrigerate.
  2. Boil the potatoes and beans: Fill a large pot with cold water and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add the whole potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 8 to 12 minutes until fork tender.
  3. Blanch the beans: Cut the ends off the beans. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil with ½ tablespoon salt. Boil the beans for about 5 minutes until tender but still bright green. Prepare a large bowl of ice water (or use the same one as for the hard boiled eggs). Right when the beans are tender, remove them from the boiling water with tongs and transfer them to the ice bath. Remove the beans and dry them with a towel, then mix them with a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Finish the potatoes: While the potatoes are cooking, mince the shallot. When the potatoes are done, drain them. When they are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite sized pieces. Place them in a bowl and gently mix in the minced shallot, white wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ cup warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Then add the capers, chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a few grinds black pepper. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
  5. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil working one tablespoon at a time, until creamy and emulsified.
  6. Prep the salad ingredients: Slice the tomatoes into wedges (or cherry tomatoes in half) and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
  7. Prep the tuna: Drain the tuna and flake it using a fork. If not packed in oil, add a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt.
  8. Serve: To serve, in large shallow bowls or on large platters, add the Bibb lettuce leaves. Top with the potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, tuna, and olives. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Nicoise salad, salad nicoise, nicoise salad recipe, salade nicoise


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